CCA moves into new Capital Campus & Family Service Center in Harrisburg
The Capital Campus will streamline administrative services, enhance family support and create opportunities for community engagement.
The new CCA Capital Campus & Family Service Center in Harrisburg was designed to create a central location for administrative offices while enhancing family services and programming for students in south-central Pennsylvania and across the state.
Prominently located on Cameron Street, near major highways and next door to the state’s Farm Show Complex, the Capital Campus will house approximately 300 teachers and staff members who have been split between two Harrisburg sites, CCA Chief Operating Officer Thomas Longenecker said.
“The nice thing now is that if a family calls and they have a question that spans multiple departments, we’re all here together,” Longenecker said. “We’ll be able to respond faster to our family's needs. Guidance will now be in the same location as enrollment, special education and the principals. We’re all together in one location.”
CCA purchased the 180,000-square-foot building from PSECU in 2016 and is renovating the site. Longenecker said the Capital Campus will provide much-needed gathering space for staff, students and families.
“There will be places for kids to come and get direct tutoring," Longenecker said. "We will have everything from small meeting spaces to large meeting rooms for field trips, different student activities and clubs. Families will be able to use this facility for other events, like birthday parties.”
School leaders are looking forward to hosting larger events, Longenecker added, including National Honor Society inductions and Keystone Exams.
“This will be a place where our kids will come from the region to do state testing — so they’re not going to a hotel ballroom or a strange facility," he said. "They will be coming to their school. We hope that will help them feel more comfortable and do a better job since they’re with their teachers.”
Community nonprofit groups will be welcome to use public spaces free of charge, Longenecker said, creating a bridge between the school and the greater Harrisburg region.
School administrators moved into an older section of the building in July and hope to occupy their new offices in January when the first phase of construction is complete. Then, work will begin to renovate and rent out the rest of the space.
“What’s going to be neat is that the half of the building we’re in now will provide 80,000 square feet of rental income generation,” Longenecker said. “And we hope to partner with agencies or companies that will also support our mission by providing internships where our kids can work. But also, by them leasing space, this building is going to generate money to help cover all of our facility costs across the state.”
Longenecker said providing excellent educational opportunities for learners remains CCA's top priority. No changes or cuts were made to programs or services to pay for the new building. In fact, financing for the building project came in part from cost savings associated with leaving the Connections Education organization.
Longenecker said the school saves nearly $5 million per year by contracting with a Pennsylvania business to handle its computer needs instead of an out-of-state vendor. Similarly, CCA is saving money in the business and human resources departments and other Connections Education administrative fees.
In addition to bringing the administration into one location and providing space for student and family activities, Longenecker said, owning the property will give CCA more financial security for the future.
“Two years ago, when the state budget impasse happened — it was very difficult for any type of a charter school to get bank funding because the only asset you really have is your computers. When you own property, banks are more open to loaning you money to keep your operations running in the event of a future budget impasse.”
Of all the benefits that come with establishing the Capital Campus, Longenecker said, creating a physical home for the school and its families is most important.
“I think owning our own facility gives a sense of permanence to our families and the communities that we’re in," he said. "Now there’s something that they can say is their school. It’s not a leased facility. This school belongs to our families.”
The Dickson City and Andreas Family Service Centers also are owned CCA facilities. The goal is for CCA to gradually own all of the regional family service centers.
"We want to develop facilities that are an innovative reflection of what CCA believes and that they welcome our families and support our teachers' instructional efforts," Longenecker said.
Once the first phase of construction of the Capital Campus is complete, CCA is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the building — possibly in spring 2018.